Ageism is not new, but in a world that is moving towards hi-tech digitalization in an uncertain future, more and more people try to push back their retirement age, and problems with ageism in the workplace are more likely to happen.
It reminds us of the movie Intern. Robert De Niro plays a retired professional, who is tired of being a retiree and ends up joining a startup full of young professionals. Yet, he manages to impress everyone including the skeptical founder played by Anne Hathaway. However, not all of us can charm people like Robert De Niro. So, a few good tips about how to handle ageism in the workplace do help.
Embrace Your Age
It is not possible to escape stereotypes. Older people are usually considered to be unfamiliar with new technology. Also, they are thought of as people who love to live in the past and tell stories about their glorious days. While all this is not bad or wrong, be aware of all these cliches so that you can avoid them and make yourself look like a better fit for the work that you do. Trying to adopt the culture of your office can work well, too. But make sure you’re comfortable with it!
Learn New Technologies
One of the biggest challenges for older people is to be acquainted with new technology. You don’t have to learn complicated stuff, but just the basic things that will let you go about your job seamlessly and help you improve your performance. Have a positive mindset so that you are not uncomfortable using technology. Reading about new technologies and how they are adopted helps, too. Basically, you need to have a passion and eagerness to grow your knowledge beyond what you already have. Try not to let yourself down when you don’t understand the first time. What’s important is your desire to learn and better yourself!
Your shortcomings might be your age and your lack of technical knowledge, but you have a few things that others don’t. Age and experience have made you more patient, better at reading people, and a good influencer. So use these to your full leverage. These skills are not dependent on technology and hence can be your strong points. Also. these skills are much needed in any organization even today. You can even help younger co-workers with these skills. However, if some of them are ranked higher up than you, they might not like to be trained by you and you need to handle that with utmost care.
Be Clever When Asking For Raise
When asking for a raise or promotion, you need to be strategic. Tell them how flexible you are with work, how you have learned some new things at the office, and how you have gotten good results. Highlight where you have adapted to change and also helped co-workers with the skills that you are good at. Focus on what you have done in your present job and do not go back to your life before retirement. No one wants to hear a conversation that starts with, “Back in my day…”. Focus on the here and now because that’s what matters.
Stand Up For Yourself
If you find people talking about your age, stand up for yourself and make them understand that ageism shouldn’t be an issue. They should see the quality of your work instead. At the same time, avoid bringing up your age and stop being self-conscious about it. If you can’t do it at first, just smiling is enough, but don’t let it get to you. Make your colleagues understand as well that you do not think age is an issue. If in a promotion you feel age can be an issue, then be prepared to deal with it.
Every age brings something new to us — new experiences, new knowledge, and new ways of handling things. However, we are not ready to face the newness all the time. Old age is another phase of life that brings around changes in the mind and body. That doesn’t mean you are not good enough to work or have fun. Society should accept the fact that old people are not just meant to sit at home and tell stories of their golden past. It is time to change the stereotypes.